Maryland lacrosse teams have lost 10 in a row to Johns Hopkins since the Terrapins last defeated the Blue Jays in 1976. When the teams met earlier this year, Hopkins won in a rout, 14-6.
So it's a little surprising that Maryland is pleased to be playing the Blue Jays today at 4 p.m. in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Hopkins' Homewood Field in Baltimore. In fact, team captain Don Sadler and Coach Dino Mattessich say they couldn't be happier.
"Out of the three teams that beat us and are seeded higher (No. 1 North Carolina, No. 2 Hopkins and No. 3 Virginia), the team we most want to play is Hopkins," said Sadler, a senior midfielder who has played in six losing games against Hopkins. "This is going to be my last shot, and it's going to be do or die. It's about time we beat them. I think their number's up."
Maryland (8-4), which lost four of its last six games, is seeded seventh in the eight-team tournament. The Blue Jays are 9-2.
In other first-round games today, eighth-seeded Navy, which lost its last three games to finish 6-4, will face defending champion North Carolina in Chapel Hill at 3. Virginia will play host to sixth-seeded Adelphi at 4 and fifth-seeded Army will meet No. 4 Cornell at 5.
The winner of the Maryland-Hopkins game will play the Virginia-Adelphi winner Saturday.
Mattessich is hoping to prevent the kind of Blue Jay surge that left the Terrapins on the short end of an 8-1 halftime score in the teams' first meeting this year. His strategy involves occasionally inserting midfielders with longer sticks who will concentrate on harassing Hopkins' attack men. Mattessich said he is willing to sacrifice the Terrapins' transition game in hopes of slowing down the Blue Jays.
Offensively, the Terrapins have spread things around a little more in their past few games, relying less on leading goal-scorer Jim Wilkerson.
Wilkerson had been doing most of the scoring and had only six assists through the team's first seven games. But he has had 15 assists in the last five to put him into a tie for the team lead with Sadler at 21. Wilkerson still leads the Terrapins in scoring with 40 goals, followed by Tim Worstell with 30.